Video footage from a police stop, in which Petito tearfully described a fight between herself and Laundrie, had some questioning whether domestic abuse was a factor in the pair's relationship.
Ginger Zee, pictured here at the Emmys, reflects on the Gabby Petito case as she recalls her past abusive relationship. (Eric McCandless via Getty Images) GINGER ZEE
Zee, the chief meteorologist at ABC News, took to Instagram on Wednesday to share a message about how she escaped her own abusive situation.
"I was lucky… I got out. I had the privilege of feeling comfortable calling police. I had the support that could lend me money to fly away," Zee began her caption, before calling out missing persons like Daniel Robinson, Maya Millette and Jelani Day, all missing people of color who have received less media attention.
"We must make sure that justice is served in #GabbyPetito case & shines a light on the disparity of missing persons but also the pervasiveness of domestic physical & psychological violence and the disparities there," Zee continued. "As I watched the body cam where she is in the isolation of a vehicle in the desert, it felt eerily like my story. That moment I was hiding under a table in a desert hotel, crying to my mom when she told me she feared for my life. She told me to call the police. I did. They got me to a different hotel and away from him. I flew out the next day."
While Zee noted that there were many details surrounding Petito's death that are still unknown, including whether Laundrie was involved as suspected, she shared, "We also know that not everyone in an abusive situation has the support or education to ask for help. They likely don’t believe they deserve it. Psychological abuse is often a precursor to physical and sexual abuse."
She also included a list of questions to ask yourself if you suspect you may be a victim of psychological abuse, and added, "For help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800- 799-SAFE (7233), or visit Domesticshelters.org to access professional help."
Zee shared her own story in her 2017 memoir Natural Disaster, which she included pages from in her Instagram post. In the excerpt she shared, Zee described a situation in which her friends were throwing her a party, but her then-abusive partner, who she calls John, gave her the ultimatum to fly to see him or else he would break up with her. Zee skipped her own party. Later, he accused her of cheating on him and flew into a rage, which led to a terrified Zee calling the police and finally ending the relationship.
Zee has spoken out about the dangers of domestic abuse before. In 2018, she went on Twitter to share a news story about Emma Walker, a teen who was killed by her boyfriend, writing, "This is an important message. Emotional, verbal, sexual, physical abuse - all from unhealthy relationships; how to identify them before they become dangerous or deadly. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 7 men will be in one at some point."
Gabby Petito’s death ruled a homicide as authorities search for boyfriend
So far, law enforcement has come up empty-handed in the search for Brian Laundrie, the only named person of interest in the case.
For anyone affected by abuse and needing support, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or if you're unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.